Police file illegal firearm possession case against mayoral patriarch

Mindanao Peace Process • Mon Nov 6, 2017 04:45 PM  •  821   0
By John Unson
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Sultan Kudarat Gov. Pax Mangudadatu inspect some of the guns seized from private armed groups, including those from ex-Army Rodolfo Ecija of Ninoy Aquino town. (Edwin O. Fernandez)
Sultan Kudarat Gov. Pax Mangudadatu inspect some of the guns seized from private armed groups, including those from ex-Army Rodolfo Ecija of Ninoy Aquino town. (Edwin O. Fernandez)
SULTAN KUDARAT --- The police is optimistic on the conviction soon of a patriarch of a town mayor and seven followers arrested for keeping grenade launchers, assault rifles and explosives. 

Senior Superintendent Raul Supiter of the Sultan Kudarat provincial police said on Monday that they have charged the suspects, among them retired Philippine Army soldier Rodolfo Ecija, with violation of Republic Act RA 10591, which prohibits keeping of unlicensed guns. 

The son of the 65-year-old Ecija, Randy, is the incumbent mayor of Senator Ninoy Aquino town in Sultan Kudarat. 

Ecija and his seven followers - Rufino Lama, Augusto Terosa, Calvin Lakandula, Jr., Joel Gardose, Glen Brillantes, Richard Devaras, Joven Andrada and Romeo Momo - were arrested on Saturday by personnel of the Sultan Kudarat provincial police who found 25 guns in their houses that were searched based on a court order.

Supiter said they submitted on Monday formal criminal complaints against Ecija and his followers at the office of Sultan Kudarat’s provincial prosecutor.
 
The search operation was launched after the Sultan Kudarat provincial police learned from neighbors of the suspects in Barangay Poblacion in Senator Ninoy Aquino that they have an arsenal of unlicensed guns. 

“They claimed to have stockpiled these weapons just for community defense and not for any criminal activity.

"Since the firearms are not covered by licenses, they have to be charged criminally just the same. It’s up for the court to litigate them. We are confident we have a strong case against them that will result to conviction,” Supiter said. 

The warrant to search the houses where the suspects kept the unlicensed firearms was issued by Judge Alandrex Betoya of the Regional Trial Court Branch 16 in Kabacan town in North Cotabato. 

Supiter said they recovered from the suspects 25 firearms, including 10 M16 assault rifles, an M203 rifle fitted with a grenade launcher and an M79 launcher for 40 millimeter grenades. 

Supiter said the raiding team also seized from them live grenade projectiles. 

“They will have their day in court,” Supiter said.
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